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Bernard Hinault becomes patron of UK's Team Raleigh

Breton Badger backs British bike brand's boys...

Five-time Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault, once the patron of the peloton, has been announced as the new patron of British UCI Continental outfit, Team Raleigh.

The 59-year-old’s involvement in the team has come about through fellow Breton Eric Berthou, who has now moved into a managerial role with Team Raleigh, with whom he finished third in this year’s Rutland–Melton International CiCLE Classic.

Hinault himself hasn’t been a stranger to Great Britain in the past couple of years; in his role with Tour de France organisers ASO, he has been a regular visitor to Yorkshire as the region gears up to host the Grand Départ of next year’s 101st edition of the race.

“Cycling is a sport that is exported widely and we must look at the growth it has in emerging countries such as Britain,” said Hinault – although given his fifth and final Tour victory in 1985 is the last by a Frenchman, and the past two seasons have seen back-to-back wins by British riders, some may feel “emerging” isn’t quite le mot juste in this instance.

“Now races and teams are on the four corners of the globe, which was a building process that started in my time, making cycling an international affair,” he added.

Team Raleigh will certainly have an international flavour next year, with seven British riders including Yanto Barker and a trio of Frenchmen joining assistant manager Berthou in the squad – 2009 scratch race world champion Morgan Kneisky , cyclocross specialist Matthew Boulo, and existing rider Alexandre Blain.

News of Hinault’s involvement with the team inevitably evokes memories of one of his great rivals, 1980 Tour winner Joop Zoetemelk, who with Dutch squad Ti Raleigh rode on bikes made by the Nottingham brand, itself now Netherlands-owned.

Zoetemelk’s victory – he and 1968 winner Jan Janssen, who took the yellow jersey in 1968 are the only Dutch riders to have won the race – broke up what would have been an unbroken run of five straight wins by Hinault, who would go on to add his fifth title in 1985.

“I remember the TI-Raleigh team with Joop Zoetemelk very well,” reflected Hinault.

“In 1979 when I was in the yellow jersey of the Tour de France Joop and I found ourselves alone on a breakaway and I beat him in the sprint on the Champs Elysées. The following year Zoetemelk rode for Raleigh and he took overall victory in the Tour, still very good memories.

He went on: “I knew the TI-Raleigh riders like Raas, Oosterboch, Van De Velde, Gerrie Knetemann and later Vanderearden. It was a very good team with great riders. Now this is a new team with young people and I am sure they will go on to much success and podium places.”

Berthou said: “I have travelled extensively through cycling, starting with Barloworld in South Africa then onto Spain with Caisse d’Epargne, and also Italy.

“But my roots at in Brittany, a strong heartland of French cycling, so I thought it logical to ask Breton’s most famous rider to become a patron for Raleigh.

“There was an obvious connection between the racing scene in Breton and in Britain, plus we’re next to the ocean and, like the British riders, open to inclement weather.

Hinault, nicknamed ‘The Badger’ for his tenacity, still has a fearsome reputation – woe betide any opportunist fan who tries to get onto the Tour de France podium when he is guarding it – and Berthou joked: “Most importantly, like the TI-Raleigh team I learned that it is better to have Bernard Hinault with you than against you.”

Team director Cherie Pridham added: “We’re honoured and proud to have such a personality and legend in the cycling world working with us.

“With his role at the Tour de France Bernard is a massive name in professional cycling and will certainly bring a lot of interest and exposure to the team.

“He will be offering support and guidance, both in the UK and in his native France, and will be joining us at selected events next year.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Welsh boy | 10 years ago

Hinault has a long standing association with Raleigh. For those with long memories you may remember 1980 when the Raleigh team declared that they needed (their team director's word) a tour winner and their rider Joop Zoetemelk won the Tour de France after Hinault pulled out whilst wearing the yellow jersey. Strangely, most (if not all) of the Raleigh riders pulled out of the world championship road race later that year which Hinault went on to win. Raleigh pulled out of sponsorship at the end of that season citing financial difficulties. Maybe, just maybe, Hinault has had some financial dealings with Raleigh in the past!

ragtimecyclist | 10 years ago

I can't help but love Bernard Hinault, and i love his comment about us Brits as an 'emerging' nation...i get the feeling that in his heart of hearts he feels that any nation that is not France is basically an 'emerging' cycling nation.

I'm afraid i know nothing about Skoda's, but just look at that photo! That is a bunch of guys who get to enjoy some serious hospitality for three weeks in July every year!

dodgy | 10 years ago

Geek comment - That's a Škoda 450 Felicia in the picture, by the way. Beautiful car, it's not just post VW that Skoda made good cars!

SideBurn replied to dodgy | 10 years ago
dodgy wrote:

Geek comment - That's a Škoda 450 Felicia in the picture, by the way. Beautiful car, it's not just post VW that Skoda made good cars!

Uber Geek comment; Skoda used to make bikes (motor and pedal) as well as cars under the name Laurin & Klement.

dodgy replied to SideBurn | 10 years ago

They still use the L&K moniker from time to time.  16

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